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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 07:21 GMT


Green light for 'rent-a-granny'

The scheme is meant to help mothers in deprived areas

Mothers may soon be able to turn to a team of "community grannies" for help with their families.

A pilot project is part of the government's Sure Start programme aimed at giving children in deprived areas a better start in life.

[ image: Daivd Blunket - Sure Start is
Daivd Blunket - Sure Start is "central" to Govenrment plans on poverty
Under the scheme, being tried out first in Thurrock, Essex, a team of volunteer "community grannies" will be set up to provide advice, support and free help with household chores.

The BBC's Rachel Ellison reports on the "surrogate grandparents" idea
Another scheme involving the provision of community mothers will be set up in North Tyneside, based at the Barnados family centre.

The Sure Start programme as a whole will provide services ranging from ante-natal classes for fathers and lessons from firefighters in accident prevention to advice and support on everything from teenage pregnancy to nutrition.

'Innovative and imaginative'

The Education and Employment Secretary, David Blunkett, said the £542m programme would make a "huge difference to the lives of children and families".

He said: "It is central to our drive to eliminate child poverty and tackle social exclusion."

Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper said: "We have set tough targets for Sure Start projects to meet, but these programmes have risen to the challenge.

"They have set out innovative and imaginative plans to improve the prospects of young children and their families in their communities."

The winning schemes, all based in England although Sure Start covers the whole of the UK, were selected from a number of "trailblazer programmes".

Others which won funding were in Birmingham, Bristol, Blackpool, Derby, Leicester, Sheffield, Sunderland, Manchester, Oxford, Oldham, Hastings, Mansfield and Copeland in Cumbria.

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